By Steve Holt, Copy Editor
The men’s and women’s track and field teams will be taking 24 athletes and both 4×400-meter relay teams to the Division II Indoor Track and Field National Championships in Boston, March 14-15, after the list of qualifiers was announced Tuesday. Three athletes who would not have qualified for nationals based on previous marks qualified based on their performances at Saturday’s Virginia Tech Last Chance Meet in Blacksburg, Va.
Wildcats will be competing in 10 of the 13 men’s events and 11 of the 13 women’s events.
Senior Nic Alexander, along with freshmen Cory Aguilar, Ricardo Johnson and Delt Cockrell made up the men’s 4×400-meter relay team that placed second Saturday with a time of 3:12.25. The relay team’s time moved it up to third on the final performance list and onto the list going to Boston.
Junior Arthemon Sindayigaya will be competing in the men’s 5,000-meter run at nationals after winning the event Saturday with a personal-best time of 14:27.65.
A female athlete who guaranteed her qualification for nationals at the Last Chance meet Saturday was senior Shauna-Gaye Stephens, who ran a personal-best time of 8.79 to place ninth in the 60-meter hurdles.
Head coach Jon Murray said competing in the “Hokie” Last Chance Meet Saturday was a unique experience right before nationals.
“Normally, we have to sit out this weekend and hope we don’t get passed on the lists,” he said. “It was good to compete in a better-quality meet this late in the year.”
Several athletes improved their qualifying marks Saturday as well. Senior Althea Johnson moved up to third on the 60-meter dash list with her time of 7.52 Saturday, while senior Lakeshia Finch set a personal best of 40-3 1/2 in the women’s triple jump. Sophomore Bernard Manirakiza shot to the top of the men’s mile list with a 4:06.43 winning performance in Virginia Saturday.
Senior Maresa Cadienhead, four-time national champion in the high jump, won her event Saturday with a jump of 6-0 3/4. She is the favorite to repeat as the indoor national champion. Sophomore Manuel Brandenborn, who also is a top contender for the shot put title at nationals, won the event Saturday with a season-best distance of 60-0 1/2.
“We’re right on target,” Murray said. “We have had very few injuries, good competition. We’re right on target to do well at nationals.”